Serbian Telecom introduces mobile services in Macedonia

Serbia-based telecom company, Telekom Srbija, announced on Thursday the launching of its new subsidiary in North Macedonia called Mtel, to provide mobile services in the area by the end of 2021. 

The future subsidiary will offer satellite TV services that will be launched within a month; along with mobile telephony and optical internet services that will be provided by the end of 2021, according to Serbian media reports. 

The state-owned company revealed that it aims to expand in all countries within Western Balkans.  

The announcement comes after an initiative taken by six Balkan countries last month to eliminate roaming charges for calls and text messages for all mobile-phone users across the region. 

Notably, North Macedonia was among these countries, in addition to Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia. 

“We’ve had plans to expand to the markets of North Macedonia and Albania, these plans have existed for three years now. We tried to enter the Albanian market by buying Telekom Albania but in the end, we were stopped,” general director of Telekom Srbija Vladimir Lucic told local media.  

The Serbian telco already has two similar subsidiaries, Mtel Bosnia and Herzegovina and Mtel Montenegro

The company’s spokesperson considered that the new Macedonian Mtel as a part of the Telekom Srbija’s regional plans.  

“The regional initiatives additionally helped erase the borders for the economy and added that it was also important for Telekom, which wants to be present in all the countries of the region,” he said. 

On the other side of the aisle, the expanding efforts of Telekom Srbija — that is owned by the Republic of Serbia with 58.11 percent ownership share—might pave the way for Serbia, and other countries Srbija subsidiaries operate within, to accelerate their European Union membership ongoing negotiations.  

As these plans seem to align with the EU’s vision of regional development and cooperation among the Western Balkan countries. 

Fortunately, the EU seems to be watching the countries efforts attentively, “the free roaming zone will improve mobility, cooperation, regional development, and integration,” EU Commissioner for Innovation Mariya Gabriel wrote in a tweet last month.   

Additionally, the six Western Balkan countries are currently working on a road map to reduce and eventually eliminate roaming charges with EU member states.